Let’s face it – the  Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…) is not meant for monkeys! Neither are the Gurdwara congregations (or any other religious congregation for that matter) meant for monkeys or other animals!

It’s for the human mind for learning and mends!

When the Truth that has not been personally experienced, one can not grasp it directly. However, with the help of examples, analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors, figurative or mystic representations and illustrations, idioms (ਮੁਹਾਵਰੇ), etc., the Truth becomes relatively easier to grasp. Such methods have extensively been used in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

Using the monkey metaphor, the Gurbani addresses the human mind which is conditioned, confused, unsettled, restless, or wildly wandering:

  • ਮਰਕਟ ਮੁਸਟੀ ਅਨਾਜ ਕੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਲੀਨੀ ਹਾਥੁ ਪਸਾਰਿ ॥ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੋ ਸਹਸਾ ਪਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਨਾਚਿਓ ਘਰ ਘਰ ਬਾਰਿ ॥੨॥: O crazy mind! The monkey stretches out its hand (into the narrow-necked pot), and takes a handful of grains; now unable to escape (since its hand is full of grains, it cannot take its hand out of the narrow-necked pot and escape. That is, because of the greed, the monkey will not let go of the grabbed grains – ਦਾਣਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਭਰੀ ਹੋਈ ਮੁੱਠ). O crazy mind! (because of its greed, now the monkey) is made to dance door to door ||2|| (sggs 336).

To fully understand and appreciate what the Gurbani is talking about here, it is important to know as to how monkeys are caught in India:

A narrow-necked pot, filled with grains and other eatables that monkeys love, is placed on the ground as a bait to trap them. As a monkey comes to take the grains, he puts his hand into the narrow-necked pot and grab hold of the grains. Now, since his hand is full of grains, he cannot take his hand out of the narrow-necked pot and escape.

In greed, thus, the foolish monkey does not open his hand and let go of the grains so that he can escape. On account of greed (as he will not let go of the grabbed grains) the monkey gets trapped and caught. Consequently, the monkey loses the freedom he had in the forest of abundance of grains and fresh fruits of his liking. In other words, for a few grains he loses his entire world! Now caught and bound, he cannot freely play and enjoy life to his heart’s liking. Instead, he is made to dance door to door by his captive.

Human mind is much the same. Deceptive Maya (illusion, the principle of plurality…) is its captive. The mind tied to Maya suffers from threefold tendencies – Taamas, Raajas, and Saatav. “Crazy mind” can only produce crazy thoughts and actions. On account of this craziness, it is trapped and caught in the transitory world, like the monkey. Trapped in bondage (Maya…), the monkey-mind does not let go the Haume (false ego-sense) and its faults ( lust, greed, anger…).

  • ਜਿਉ ਕਪਿ ਕੇ ਕਰ ਮੁਸਟਿ ਚਨਨ ਕੀ ਲੁਬਧਿ ਨ ਤਿਆਗੁ ਦਇਓ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਕਰਮ ਕੀਏ ਲਾਲਚ ਸਿਉ ਤੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਗਰਹਿ ਪਰਿਓ ॥੧॥: Like the monkey with a handful of grains (in the narrow-necked pot – ਦਾਣਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਭਰੀ ਹੋਈ ਮੁੱਠ), who will not let go (grains) because of greed (even he knows he is trapped!) – just so, all the deeds committed in greed ultimately become a noose around (man’s) neck. (sggs 336).

Thus, the human mind has chained itself to the narrow-necked pot of the body-consciousness — the rule of the senses (or Maya…).

A mouse cannot enter its hole with a basket tied around its waist. A balloon anchored with ropes to the ground cannot take off either.

Further, just as a man cannot run with his feet tied, or talk with his mouth closed; similarly, he cannot attain mental purity or liberation (from Mayaic consciousness…) with his mind tied to the diverse chains of his false ego-sense (Haumai). He then becomes slave and dance to the tune of Maya.

  • ਫਾਕਿਓ ਮੀਨ ਕਪਿਕ ਕੀ ਨਿਆਈ ਤੂ ਉਰਝਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਕਸੁੰਭਾਇਲੇ ॥: (O mind!) You are caught, like the fish (due the bait) and the monkey (due to a fistful of grains); you are entangled in the safflower (transitory Mayaic world…). (sggs 862).
  • ਬਿਖਯੰਤ ਜੀਵੰ ਵਸ੍ਹੰ ਕਰੋਤਿ ਨਿਰਤ੍ਹੰ ਕਰੋਤਿ ਜਥਾ ਮਰਕਟਹ ॥: You (anger) take the perplexed beings (corrupt, agitated, Bikaaree, full of desires or hunger of Maya…) in your power, and make them dance like monkeys (sggs1358).

Fittingly, the Gurbani says we all know how to get trapped (or caught in Maya’s snare, desires, Bikaar-lust, anger, greed…). In the same breath, the Gurbani also tells us that “hardly anyone knows how to escape”.

  • ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ ਇਕੁ ਕੋਈ ॥: (Wherever you see) everyone knows the way to be trapped, but hardly anyone knows how to be Freed. (sggs 331).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲੁ ਪਸਾਰਿਆ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਚੋਗ ਬਣਾਇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਪੰਖੀ ਫਾਸਿਆ ਨਿਕਸੁ ਨ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਇ ॥: Maya has spread out her net and in it has placed the bait (ਵਿਸਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਚੋਗਾ ਜਾਲ, sensuousness, sense-gratifications, Bikaars, desires, etc.). The bird of desire (instinctive mind, ਜੀਵ-ਪੰਖੀ, etc.) is caught, and cannot find any escape, O (my) mother (sggs 50).

The Gurbani shows us the way out from this slavery or captivity.

The Gurbani also shows us how to quiet the monkey-mind. The Gurbani reminds us to anchor our minds to Wisdom (Giaan) each breath (“ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ – Saasi Saasi Simrahu Gobind”). This helps the mind stay in the moment and its Mool (Source, Jot Saroop or True Nature, Truth…).

For this to happen, the Gurbani asks us to become the Gurmukh.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਸੂਤਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਗੇ ਗੁਣ ਗਿਆਨ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਜਾਗੇ ਜਿਨ ਨਾਮ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥੧॥  The Manmukh is asleep, in love and attachment to Maya. The one who has become the Gurmukh by contemplating Spiritual Wisdom and the Divine Virtues remains Awake. Those beings who love the Naam, remains Awake (ਦਿਮਾਗ ਦਾ ਖੁਲ ਜਾਣਾਂ – don’t fall asleep to Maya’s attachment). ||1|| (sggs 160).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸਥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮੰਝਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ : By becoming the Gurmukh, applying the Touchstone of the Shabad (Wisdom, Naam, Upadesh…), the Gurmukh kills his mind (conquers his mind by annihilating false ego-sense, its attachment to Maya etc.). He fights with his own mind (to give up its evil inclinations or Bikaar and when they are given up), he settles with his mind (on how to lead life by Naam and then) remains absorbed in the mind itself (i.e. keeps other ideas away and leads life by Naam). (sggs 87).

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  1. Thank you Bhai Sahib Ji for taking time to comment on this post.
    Also, thank you for your kind words, and encuragement.

  2. Awesome reflections. In one line Gurbani can sum up life’s essence. Thanks for your endeavor of sharing these gems.

    Deep Regards.

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